Books of the Year 2011

Patrick Allington et al.

Patrick Allington

The year, for me, has been dominated by wonky donkeys and dancing kangaroos. As for books for adults, I read more fiction than non-fiction – and, with accidental parochialism, more Australian than international novels. Frank Moorhouse’s Cold Light (Vintage, see the November 2011 ABR review [11/11]), especially its majestic ending, is a triumph. Together with Grand Days and Dark Palace, Moorhouse’s ‘Edith trilogy’ is storytelling of great energy, political intricacy, and wit. Canberra needs an Edith Campbell Berry statue.

My début Australian novel of the year is Peggy Frew’s terrific domestic/rock’n’roll tale, House of Sticks (Scribe).

One of the downsides of these sorts of lists is that nobody’s reading can ever be up to date. If I’d read it in time, I would have included Fiona McGregor’s marvellous Sydney novel, Indelible Ink (Scribe, 6/10), in my 2010 list. As Christos Tsiolkas puts it, it’s ‘absolute f***ing gold’. I note it now, a year late.

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